Well that’s confusing!
There’s a lot of pressure on Kingdom Hearts IV given its drastically different setting and the fact that it’s a start of a new journey: something series boss Tetsuya Nomura is painfully aware of. Speaking to Game Informer, he tackled the subject of Final Fantasy characters appearing in the series (or a lack thereof). Here’s what Nomura had to say on the Kingdom Hearts Final Fantasy crossover situation.
Basically, the reason the first game had a chunk of Final Fantasy characters in it is because Nomura and his team wanted to ease people into the world. He describes the Final Fantasy cast as “lending a hand” to get to know the Kingdom Hearts original creations. But once that whole universe got off the ground, they essentially served their purpose:
“Now, there are so many original characters from Kingdom Hearts that are so well-loved, and people want to see more of those characters. With Kingdom Hearts III, since we did have so many original Kingdom Hearts characters, it was hard to find room for including more Final Fantasy characters.”
Okay, this is interesting as hell, and sort of serves as a microcosm for the confusing themes of the series in general.
Kingdom Hearts, by many counts, is a game built around fanservice of multiple properties. And out of the gate, it was very clearly a marriage of over a decade of Square Enix history, as well as decades of Disney history. But now, those Kingdom Hearts characters are actually older than some Final Fantasy characters were at the time, and they’re the history-writers. The clashing of fandoms over which elements should be included makes a lot more sense juxtaposed to this internal plan of ushering out the FF cast.
It all boils down to this quote from Nomura, who may have given us a hint of what Kingdom Hearts IV has in store for us:
“One thing I want to clear up is that a lot of fans are saying that Kingdom Hearts is this collaboration between Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters. But I really feel like that’s not the basic concept of Kingdom Hearts; that’s not exactly what Kingdom Hearts is.”
He says that they are “thinking about” the fan reactions of wanting more Final Fantasy characters in the series in the future, but at this point, it sounds like he’s made up his mind. As long as they deliver an engrossing game, I’m OK if certain people and groups don’t make it in. But given that Nomura and his team set the expectation for Final Fantasy to appear in the series, quietly writing them out probably wasn’t the best long-term gameplan.